Politics & Government

Forget Prop 8: GOP cheers Missouri's health care opt out

President Obama signs health care legislation
President Obama signs health care legislation Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/MCT

Republicans across the country are gleefully rubbing their hands this week, convinced that Missouri's thunderous opposition to a key part of health care reform is fully exportable this fall.

"It's just energizing to all of us to move forward," said Sue Lynch of Alexandria, Va., president of the National Federation of Republican Women, who was in Kansas City for the Republican National Committee's summer meeting.

Lynch was referring to Proposition C, a Missouri initiative aimed at quashing a federal requirement that almost everyone purchase health insurance. Almost three out of four Missouri voters endorsed Prop C in Tuesday's election, an almost unheard-of margin.

"People aren't buying (reform) any more," Republican chairman Michael Steele told Republican National Committee members Friday. "I think what we saw happen in Missouri this week proved that point."

Missouri GOP executive director Lloyd Smith called it a turning point of the midterm elections, adding that GOP voter intensity is "through the roof. I've never seen it that high."

Democrats and health care supporters, stung by the lopsided Prop C outcome, spent the week trying to regroup. A key part of their strategy: explaining health care reform to voters.

"Folks are still confused about what federal health reform actually is, and the voices of opposition are loud, shrill and apparently resonating with some voters," said Marcia Nielsen, former head of the Kansas Health Policy Authority.

However, Democrats remain confident that the Missouri law will have little practical effect. State laws, they point out, can't trump national law.

"A vote of no legal significance in the midst of heavy Republican primaries," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs scoffed earlier this week.

Some Democrats, dismissed downplaying the vote's significance, pointing out that almost 669,000 Missourians said "yes" to Prop C, almost as many as voted for U.S. Senate candidates Roy Blunt and Robin Carnahan combined.

"It has some legs, unfortunately," said longtime Missouri Democratic operative Woody Overton. "And it's not just a Republican thing."

Read more of this story at KansasCity.com

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